Chili Cook-Off Champions


On Saturday, October 21, members of our PNWU community slid into their official PNWU chef’s aprons and began mixing spices and ingredients in preparation of the 14th Annual Chili Cook-Off, live from the Yakima Armory. By the time all of the pots and pans found a home in the commercial dishwasher, our dream-team had dethroned a five-time chili cook-off championship squad, returning to Terrace Heights smelling like chipotle peppers, Spanish onion, chorizo and… what’s that last smell? Oh, yes: the sweet, sweet smell of victory.   

“I’ve been cooking this recipe for a few years now, and won a contest with it at my former institution,” said Jameson Watkins, the Chief Information Officer here at PNWU. “I used to be a member of the International Chili Society and I think I took pieces from something I found in their magazine that had the flavors I love. But the true secret to our recipe was team’s chemistry. Each team member added a unique, creative spin that made it even better.”  

A major factor in that chemistry was Angie Girard, our Director of Accreditation and Strategic Planning, who put her strategic experience to good use in crafting the final recipe. 

“The theme for the cook off was, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,”” Girard explained. “However, Jameson thought, since our chili has more of a Mexican flavor, we should morph the theme to, “It’s the day of the dead, Charlie Brown.”  

Quickly, our team decorated the PNWU with sugar-skull face painted Barbie’s, complete with signs stating, “It’s el dia de los muertos, Charlie Brown.” 

“I heard we had some seriously good cooks here at PNWU,” added Watkins, “but the booth next to ours was the five year-running champions. As the night wore on both teams were glancing at each other’s traffic and sneakily counting each other’s vote chips. We knew it was going to be close, but we also knew we had something special when we saw the same people in our line three and even four times.” 

For now, the team has elected to keep the details of their recipe secret, but are proud to have supported the event, with all proceeds of the Chili Cook Off benefiting rescue and adoption programs at Yakima Valley Pet Rescue and Adoption Center.